On the Necessity for the Incarnation of the Son of God As the Means of Our Redemption.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Necessity for the Incarnation of the Son of God As the Means of Our Redemption.
It may be asked by some whether it was a matter of indispensable necessity for our redemption that Christ should become man; whether, had God so permitted, an angel or even a man of eminent sanctity could not have effected our redemption. St. Augustine declares that while on the one hand it would have been possible for divine Wisdom to redeem mankind in some other manner than the one whereby it was actually redeemed, yet, on the other hand, it is more in harmony with divine justice that the Redeemer should be the Son of God. In order to apprehend the full meaning of this dictum of the great Father of the Church, consider:
1st. The infinite greatness, the awful majesty, the incomprehensible sublimity of God. Let your imagination picture to you the Supreme Deity at the moment when He called creation into being, or when at His word the worlds He created will all be dashed to pieces; or when He will come upon the clouds of Heaven, to judge the living and the dead. And when your soul is overwhelmed with salutary fear at the sight of the awful majesty of God, then proceed to consider: that the more exalted the person who is offended, the more heinous is the offence in itself, and consequently more is required to atone for it. Now since the majesty of God, which man has offended, is infinite in dignity, justice naturally demands that the individual who shall make satisfaction to the infinite and almighty God for the offence committed, should likewise be infinite in dignity. For instance, would it not be a fresh insult if a nation, which had grievously offended against its monarch, should depute a criminal condemned to death or to penal servitude, or even one of the king’s most upright servants, to make satisfaction to the royal master whose wrath it had incurred? Now, what are we mortals in the sight of God but criminals under sentence of death? What are even the best of men, the very angels themselves, but His servants? And even were they more than this, they would still be finite creatures. The most exalted cherubim, who stand nearest to God’s throne, radiant as the bright morning star, do not possess the infinite dignity which strict justice requires in a Redeemer. Thus it was absolutely necessary that one of the three divine Persons, who alone are infinite, should stoop to take upon Himself the nature of man, in order in that condition of infinite abasement to appease the offended majesty of God by an atonement that was infinite in character.
2d. Consider a further reason why the incarnation of the Son of God was indispensable. St. Paul gives it us in these words: “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” (I. Cor. iv. 7.) Supposing that God had consented to allow an angel or a saint to offer satisfaction to Him, wherewith would the debt have been paid? What a creature is, he is through God; what he has, he has received from God; nay, had a man given up his life, or an angel his eternal felicity, God would receive nothing that was not already His own. A bondsman who has stolen a sum of money from his master and squandered it, cannot make reparation for the theft, since he has nothing of his own, nothing but what belongs to his lord. So an angel or a man could not make satisfaction to his divine Master, for they are one and all His bondsmen. But what the servant cannot do the son can do, for he is, as the Apostle says, a free man; and thus the Son of God made man paid the debt which we could not have discharged to all eternity.
3d. And now, my soul, consider this: Of all the millions of mankind who ever have lived or will yet live on this earth, not one is competent to make atonement to God for our guilt, to pay our debt; not even the holy apostles, the glorious martyrs, not the Queen of all Saints herself, the ever-blessed Virgin Mary. And if you raise your eyes to Heaven, you will there behold the holy angels standing around the throne of God, innumerable as the stars of the firmament above, decked with light and splendor such as your feeble sight could not bear to look upon. And yet, were you to search through all the heavens, you would not find among the mighty princes of those celestial realms, amongst the thrones and virtues, one who could have redeemed you. Only one single individual possessed the power to pay your debt – the Son of God. What therefore ought now to fill you with most amazement? The love of God and the terrible guilt of sin. What ought to inflame your heart most ardently to-day? Love for the Redeemer who for your sake became man, and detestation of the awful evil of sin.
Listen, my soul: since your Redeemer discharged for you the vast debt due to sin, in gratitude to Him forgive your brother the trifling debt he owes to you, by reason of some slight offence, some thoughtless word whereby he has wronged you.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come!
Hymn from the Office of Lauds for Advent
The solemn voice of the Precursor is heard, explaining the obscurity of the ancient figures; let our slumbers cease; Jesus is rising on our horizon.
Let the sluggish soul now rise, and stay no more upon this earth; a new star is shining, which will take all sin away.
Lo! the Lamb is sent to forgive us freely our debt; let us unite in tears and prayers, that we may obtain pardon.
That when He comes the second time, filling the world with fear, He may not have to punish us for our sins, but may protect us in mercy.
Power, honour, praise, and glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Paraclete, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayers from the Office and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for Advent
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Almighty Lord and God, who hast brought us to the beginning of this day, let thy powerful grace so conduct us through it, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words, and actions may be regulated according to the rules of thy heavenly justice, and tend to the observance of thy holy law. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Lord God, and King of heaven and earth, vouchsafe this day to rule and sanctify, to direct and govern our souls and bodies, our senses, words, and actions in conformity to Thy law, and strict obedience to Thy commands; that by the help of Thy grace, O Saviour of the world! we may be fenced and freed from all evils. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.
V. O Lord God of hosts, come and deliver us.
R. Show Thy face, and we shall be saved.
V. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
R. And grant us the Saviour, whom we expect from Thee.
V. The Lord shall rise upon thee, O Jerusalem!
R. And His glory shall be seen upon thee.
Exert, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy power and come; that by thy protection we may be freed from the imminent dangers of our sins, and be saved by Thy mercy; who livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.
Novena for Advent
Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God! To hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30th) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)
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